Category Archives: identity

why God made you an Asian American

Russell Jeung (Associate Professor of Asian Studies at San Francisco State University) gave 4 talks at the first Asian American conference hosted by Bread of Life Church in Torrance, California, March 7-9. We recorded the first talk from Friday night. (Videos from all the talks may be made available later, but no guarantees.)
Russell Jeung
With permission from Russell Jeung, we are grateful for being able to post the first talk online. Here’s the audio (mp3, running time = 75:41) and slides from his March 7th presentation titled, “Daniel 2: Asian American Values of Wisdom, Community, and Humility” >>


a Chinese church perspective

Pastor Paul Hong Cheng heads the only local Chinese church, formed four months ago in Vacaville. Vacaville is approximately 35 miles from Sacramento and 55 miles from San Francisco. Pastor Cheng shared this perspective about reaching the next generation and the future impact of China in this article, Breaking language barriers: Chinese church reaches out to Solano County and beyond (The Reporter)::

“Then I thought, well, maybe this is the beginning,” Cheng said. “You attract the overseas-born-Chinese, they bring their American-born children, and then there are American-born Chinese who we can draw in.”

Now Cheng leads the Chinese version of “Vision of Love,” which holds a service in Mandarin every Sunday for a congregation of about 30 people. The group meets in a room at the First Baptist Church of Vacaville, the same church where Pastor Cheng felt called by God years ago.

Cheng says the Chinese community is growing in Vacaville, and sees the Church’s programs as a way to help American-born Chinese to connect with their cultural roots. He felt the programs would benefit his own three sons.

“I have American-born Chinese children, and I do see that identity is an issue,” Cheng says. “They are pretty much Americanized. But on the other hand, they have roots in their original culture.”

The Church offers Chinese language classes to the community. He points out that employers are often looking for candidates who understand Chinese language and culture.

“China, whether we like it or not, in the next half century or before then, will be a major power,” Cheng said. “Nobody can stop it. The economic power is pushing China to open the door, and because the market size is big, its like 1.3 billion, its’ like 25 percent of the world population. It’s a big market.”

Read the full article for entire context. Also see the Vision of Love church’s website is at volchristian.blogspot.com.

Asian American women and cultural pressures

There are many factors that affect Asian Americans, both pressures from our Asian cultural heritage as well as being a minority in an American context. This CNN article, Push to achieve tied to suicide in Asian-American women, unpacks some of these pressures that push a few over the edge towards tragedy [ht: Eddie Byun]:

Asian-American women ages 15-24 have the highest suicide rate of women in any race or ethnic group in that age group. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for Asian-American women in that age range. … As Noh and others have searched for the reasons, a complex answer has emerged.

First and foremost, they say “model minority” pressure — the pressure some Asian-American families put on children to be high achievers at school and professionally — helps explain the problem.

“In my study, the model minority pressure is a huge factor,” says Noh, who studied 41 Asian-American women who’d attempted or contemplated suicide. “Sometimes it’s very overt — parents say, ‘You must choose this major or this type of job’ or ‘You should not bring home As and Bs, only As,” she says. “And girls have to be the perfect mother and daughter and wife as well.”

Family pressure often affects girls more than boys, according to Dr. Dung Ngo, a psychologist at Baylor University in Texas. “When I go talk to high school students and ask them if they experience pressure, the majority who raised their hands were the girls,” he said.

Asian-American parents, he says, are stricter with girls than with boys. “The cultural expectations are that Asian women don’t have that kind of freedom to hang out, to go out with friends, to do the kinds of things most teenagers growing up want to do.”

And in Asian cultures, he added, you don’t question parents. “The line of communication in Asian culture one way. It’s communicated from the parents downward,” he says. “If you can’t express your anger, it turns to helplessness. It turns inward into depression for girls. For boys it’s more likely to turn outwards into rebellious behavior and behavioral problems like drinking and fighting.”

Watch video for more about Asian-Americans’ feelings of pressure to hide depression. But it’s even more complicated than just cultural pressures. Even an Asian American writer like Iris Chang with notable accomplishments and career success had committed suicide.

There’s a big opportunity here for Gospel-centered Asian-friendly churches to better minister grace and healing to avert the cultural pressures and expectations so that Asian American women and men can experience an abundant life in Christ.

contextualizing the Gospel for Asian Americans

The Epic Movement is the Asian American focused ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. They held an Epic East Coast 2007 Conference near Washington DC in January 2007, and recorded the 4 messages by Dr. Ben Shin (Adjunct Professor, Talbot School of Theology) —

[courtesy of Bill Simon at xanga.com/wcs; also mirrored here]

not easy being Asian American

2 videos that give a glimpse of what it feels like to be an Asian American, dealing with racism [via Eugene Cho’s blog], identity [via ISAAC blog], and more:

The first video, Silent Racism, was produced as a part of the 2006 Faith and Race class at Quest Church (Seattle) processing issues of race, racism, and racialization.

The second video, “Identity” – Unraveling “Asia America”, was directed and edited by Calvin Sun (Columbia University Asian American Alliance) as a part of Culture Shock. It seeks to reveal what lies beneath the color of our skins for a new generation of Asian Americans. Topics range from the indeterminate nature of the Asian American identity to subtle cultural diversity/segregation challenges among undergraduate campuses and possible solutions to these issues.